I’m too young to have remembered Buddy Holly or Richie Valens, but I grew up with their music all around me. Maybe this would really be a better Mother’s Day post, because Mom’s the one who really got me interested in Rock n’ Roll (the Rock Nerd Obsession was not the desired effect, I’m sure), and Buddy Holly was mom’s favorite. She loved all the big stars of the ’50s, but she said Buddy was the one.
In eighth grade I took a History of Rock class. It was 1976, and it was a full year and counted as a real music class, even good for high school. I think that was a pretty progressive class back then, and I don’t think they offered it much more than that one time. We got to bring in records, and I loved the early part of the class because I had records I could borrow from my mom to bring in. Digging Chuck Berry was weird enough, but Buddy Holly was pretty unknown in our Jr. High; so while I was excited the only person in the room as excited as me was my teacher. We often just had conversations between the two of us with 25 other kids slack jawed or sleeping around us. He’s the one that explained how Buddy’s arrangements and studio knowledge was way ahead of the game to me. He used to say, “Man, if that plane hadn’t crashed I think you’d hear more Latino rhythms in rock ‘n roll from Richie Valens, and Buddy Holly would have done a studio masterpiece like Sgt. Pepper years before The Beatles.” He had some other theories I tend to agree with too, but I was just excited to see that Buddy was more to the world than just some old guy my mom liked.
What would today be without hearing “American Pie”? I hope this YouTube is interesting to you. I thought it was pretty cool. “American Pie” is the first 45 I ever bought with my very own money. I wrote my name all over it and told my little brother if he touched it, he was DEAD. I had other records, but they were always gifts. This one was bought with my first paper route money. I just liked the song. When I found out later it was like a rambling history of rock n roll starting off where Buddy left us, I thought it was the most profound thing I’d ever heard. I was 10, so I didn’t know what profound meant, but I knew that rock n roll meant as much to me as it did to this Don McLean guy, and Buddy Holly had probably turned us both into Rock Nerds.
I thought Rock Nerds were cool then. I know better now!